Opinion » Shredder

Kick 'em when they're down



You know what I like to do when I see a homeless person lying on the ground in a city park? I like to kick 'em. You know, to make sure they're still alive. If they're in a tent, I wouldn't know they were dead until they really start to stink.


Surely that's the reasoning behind the city of San Luis Obispo's ordinance prohibiting tents in city parks, right? I mean, it can't be a thinly veiled attempt to make SLO's unhoused population even more miserable in the midst of a global pandemic.

According to a city press release, "The recent influx of tents and similar enclosed structures at public parks has disrupted the intended public use of these recreational areas and raised resident concerns."

Did you catch that? "Resident concerns," as in people who have homes to go to.

"Unlawful activities including illegal drug use have been exacerbated by the encroachment of unpermitted tents, resulting in increased adverse or aggressive behaviors in parks," the release continued. "In addition to creating opportunities for negative behaviors, tents interfere with park maintenance and the general public's use and enjoyment of these spaces."

Yes, what about the "general public"? Why must they be made to suffer inconvenience due to the "specific public" that has nowhere else to go? It's an outrage alright.

Parks and Rec Director Greg Avakian was also quoted in the release: "Prohibiting the use of tents or similar enclosed structures in public parks and recreational areas is critical for us to be able to continue providing safe, inclusive, accessible, and clean parks for the entire SLO community, which is a top priority for our Parks and Recreation Department."

By "the entire SLO community," he clearly means everyone except the unhoused, who need to get out of the city parks and hide themselves from view so the rest of us can forget homelessness exists and continue on with our "happiest place to live" lives.

"Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay. My, oh, my, what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine headin' my way. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay! Get the homeless out of my park. It's the truth. My home's actch'll. Everything is satisfactch'll."

Don't even get me started with the new shopping cart ordinance, which according to the press release prohibits "the unauthorized removal of shopping carts from retail establishments."

This obviously isn't directed at the unhoused population, right? As the release notes, shopping carts "interfere with pedestrian and vehicle traffic; the use of public streets, sidewalks, public areas, and public rights of way for their intended purposes; and can create dangerous conditions for users of those public spaces."

It's a public safety issue, see? And by public, the city is obviously referring to the "real" public, not the indigent vagrants, who should haul their meager possessions around in garbage bags and huddle under overpasses like sewer rats.

As SLO City Manager Derek Johnson noted in the release, "neither of the ordinances directly regulate any particular group based on status." To which I respond, "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! What a disingenuous load of horseshit!"

"Our No. 1 priority is the health and welfare of all those that live, work, and play in the city," Johnson added.

What's the priority number for helping unhoused people who are trying to "live" in SLO? It sure ain't two, three, or 10.

If the city wants to crack down on homelessness, I wish they'd just admit it. At least we wouldn't have to wade through the swampy subterfuge of these lying press releases trying to make draconian punishments of poverty into some thinly disguised public safety act. This NIMPPism (Not In My Public Park) is hogwash.

And speaking of NIMBY hogwash, Morro Bay residents are all for drug treatment centers ... as long as they're not in Morro Bay. I first wrote about Morro Bay resident Ashley Smith's concerns over the proposed Morro Bay Recovery Inc. taking over the 27-room former Rodeway Inn to help those with addictions to drugs and alcohol ("Yee haw! Cowboy up!" March 11).

On April 20, Smith and fellow Morro Bay residents got their "day in court" as Smith's appeal went before the City Council. Ten disgruntled phone calls and too many emails to count later, the city denied the appeal because ... dum-dum-dum ... they had to. The Housing Accountability Act requires approval because the proposed project use is permitted in the project zone, in compliance with the zoning code and general plan, and can't be discriminated against simply because it's a rehab facility.

I have to give it up for Morro Bay residents who opposed the project. They had some very creative theories, such as the noise from screaming addicts as they came off drugs, drug dealers coming to the facility because they don't want to lose customers, and patients who might be sex offenders because ... huh? Are all addicts also sex offenders? Slow. Clap. Morro. Bay.

And speaking of a slow clap, let's give it up for neighbors of Shell Beach's Chapman Estate, which often hosts fundraising events. Neighbors want to stop events because attendees park outside their houses ... on public streets. How. Dare. They. Δ

The Shredder's bluebird fell of its shoulder. Send commiserations to [email protected].


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